We live in the world, but we’re not supposed to be OF the world.
Whatever does that mean?
When I was checking out my local Reddit forum to see if I could find any “insider” scoops on the latest approaching storm, I noticed a thread about a small anti-abortion protest. The protest has been ongoing for years outside a regional hospital where the abortions take place, but it’s mostly a silent protest, made up mostly of Christians.
The video accompanying the thread showed a nun and others being verbally harassed by passers-by. The nearly 200 comments on the thread were pro-abortion.
Two thoughts came to mind as I watched as much of the clip as I could: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do”, and “my town is turning into Sodom”.
Sodom was not Sodom because the men had a sexual preference for men over women; that was just one of many manifestations of the deep sin on the souls of Sodom residents. The “sin of Sodom” extended to all aspects of life and devoured nearly everyone living there. Sodomites were so deeply entrenched in sin, it became their default position and they couldn’t see or think or feel beyond it. And they got there on their own volition.
I believe my town has reached the point where the default position of nearly half the people is the same as that of the ancient Sodomites. That’s not to say that all people living here are like the ancient Sodomites, but I would guess nearly half of them are. This is a sad revelation for me.
“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
If there are ten people living in a place, and all ten people are honest, hard-working, and have integrity, that is a wonderful place to live. You don’t have to lock your doors at night or worry about people stealing your lawn furniture. Everyone is courteous and considerate of the others. It’s about as close as you can get to Heaven without actually being there.
If one of the ten people dies and someone moves into the place who is not honest and is not hard-working and has no integrity, the place changes in a negative way. The other nine people might not actually do it, but they consider locking their doors at night and taking their lawn furniture inside when they’re not using it (just to keep temptation from the path of the other person). They decide instead to take a “wait and see” approach and give the outsider the benefit of the doubt. There are no break-ins and nothing is stolen, but the nine original residents are uneasy and watchful, which they had not been before.
If another two of the original ten residents dies and two more people move in who are like in character to the outsider, there are now only seven people who are honest, hard-working and have integrity. The other three are becoming bolder and bolder about their dishonestly, laziness, and deviousness. Break-ins and thefts begin to occur, first among the three outsiders themselves and then among the remaining original seven. Mistrust begins to grow between the two groups. The sense of community has broken down and they no longer see themselves as one community but two distinct communities.
If two more of the original residents die and two other people move in who are even more dishonest, lazy and devious than the other three already there, the previously wonderful community has reached a crisis point. Theft and property damage are rampant. In fact, they’ve become the new norm. None of the residents would dream about leaving their doors unlocked at night let alone leaving their lawn furniture unattended even during the day. The social cohesion is nearly non-existent between the two groups. The original residents are in a state of quiet despair, not knowing what to do to bring back their idyllic original community, while the newcomers, who never did assimilate or adopt the original residents’ values, consider the thefts and lack of courtesy a normal fact of everyday life and have no intention of changing their ways.
Sodom is a state of mind. When more than half of the people around you choose death rather than life, sin rather than virtue, you are dwelling in the realm of Sodom. The people jeering at the polite stoic nun on the streets of my town dwell in Sodom.
But I, too, as an unbelieving atheist, dwelt in Sodom.
Now I live in God’s Kingdom.
I might be wrong, but I don’t see a revival or a return to general Christian values in society in the future. I only foresee triple-locked doors (backed up by electronic security systems) and more stolen lawn furniture. I don’t believe that this trajectory can be stopped. There will be a few people who leave Sodom, like I did and like Lot and his family did, but the rest will choose to stay, even when warned what their ultimate fate will be.
And warn them we must, even if we’re argued with, jeered at, and spat on.
The world is falling deeper and deeper into sin, individually and therefore collectively. Sodom was not the sin of one but the sin of many, until the point came when the place was no longer sustainable for human life. The hostile aggression and vile curses hurled at the protesters outside the abortion hospital in my town are evidence that Sodom is all around us, surrounding us, and nearly overwhelming us.
We know that Jesus will come back when global Sodom has reached the breaking point. But he won’t be staying, any more than the angels stayed in Sodom beyond one night. They came for the sole purpose of rescuing Lot and his family before Sodom was destroyed, just as Jesus will come for the sole purpose of rescuing the few remaining believers still on Earth before the final conflagration.
We live in the world, but we should not be OF the world.
“Weep not for me, women of Jerusalem; weep for yourselves, for if they do these things when the wood is green, what will they do when the wood is dry?”
They will kill babies in the womb and call it a woman’s reproductive right.
“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”